I've been running for 1.5 years and completed 4 half marathons and numerous 10ks. This winter as I was training for a spring full marathon I ended up with a stress fracture in my left shin. Since getting back to running after my injury I've aquired a weird foot strike that I am trying to correct before other parts of my body go haywire! It happens especially with my left foot. As my foot comes forward I sort of "cup" my foot in the air and then land on the outside edge when I come down. When I watch my feet I can actually see my feet do this. I'm not sure how to fix this problem. Any suggestions would be very helpful!
What leads you to believe it needs to be fixed? Are you having a problem now? Or are you just worried, since it's different than it used to be, it might lead to a problem?
If it's significantly different then I'd be most concerned about doing too much too soon and ramping up the miles with this new strike and the bones and muscles and tendons aren't used to it. In that mode I would theoretically guess you're at greater risk for an injury, but if you let your body/ankle/leg adapt slowly it may be just fine. I think there are lots of people who strike that way.
If you know you want to change it back to the way it was (for whatever reason) you might try just standing on one leg and practice picking up the foot and putting it back down - in the manner you want it to strike. The Pose Method of running has a drill like this to enable the runner to get the basic sensation while standing still - so your brain can really focus on how it feels. In that drill they're going for a very specific set of actions and perceptions - and I won't go into those since this isn't a Pose question. But it seems to me you could use a similar concept to try and get your brain to get used to *not* cupping the foot as it's going to the ground.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
As is often the case asking a question often results with the answer being more questions. Your question reminds me of the paradox of "Which came first the chicken or the egg". This allegory is rarely answered. Is the left foot moving "sort of cup" occurring because of the stress fracture, or was the foot moving "sort of cupped" which lead to the stress fracture? In order to gain a better understanding of this problem an examination to determine if there is an under lying structure leading to the left foot moving sort of cupped? In order to gain a better understanding of this problem a slow motion video analysisis indicated in order to determine if the manner of running is faulty or uncoordinated. Take a look at Given an overuse injury what are the expected movement faults.
Damien Howell PT, DPT, OCS - www.damienhowellpt.com
The cupping of my left foot started occurring after I began running again after my stress fracture. I believe the reason for my stress fracture was simply overuse. I was all excited to start marathon training and I increased my miles too fast and ignored the nagging pain in my shin until I couldn't put any weight on it.
I'm not having any pain now because of my foot strike. I keep reading about correct running form and the foot strike seems to be important. I've been trying to land on my mid-foot which may be causing me to twist my foot. I've never been a heel striker. I tend to run more on my toes. I am worried that if I don't fix my foot strike I will injure myself again. I will try the Pose drill and see if I can reprogram my foot! Thanks!
Actually, forefoot striking is supposed (according to the "experts") to be more efficient than midfoot. The kind of thing you seem to have encountered is why I alway recommend extreme caution when trying to change your footstrike. It's rarely a simple transition.
You've accomplished a lot in a short period of time, and should be proud of your accomplishments. It also sounds like you've overtrained.
I've gotten stress fractures in my lower left shin twice, both times when training for a marathon. Ultimately I returned to running, and did not have an altered gait / footstrike EXCEPT when I was still dealing with an injury. I'm a natural mid-to-forefoot runner, and my foot doesn't cup. Based on your description, I think that you are right to be concerned.
I would STRONGLY recommend that you see a sports orthopedic surgeon, particularly one who specializes in runners. If you don't live in or near a big city, check with the athletic department of a local college for a recommendation.
"Victory through attrition!"
Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03
The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00